An article in the i-newspaper on Sunday suggested that some people go to church purely because they feel better afterwards. The author himself said that he didn’t want any sort of reward from heaven but merely enjoyed the lift to his spirits that resulted from church attendance, especially in a world where stress and depression are so prevalent.
This is an interesting point he makes – recognising that Someone is in control is a great help to being content with your situation, whatever it is. Many people look for meaning in their lives and stuggle to find it, whereas religion offers an answer to the purpose of life and a hope that things will get better.
Of course, if we believe in God, it follows that we should want to know Him better and hear what He wants to say to us, through His Word the Bible. The mood-boost that the author enjoys will only be temporary and its effect will become less over time, if he doesn’t make an effort to search His Word for himself. Lots of people start going to church early in their lives but then drift away when it feels irrelevant to them.
A feel-good factor isn’t enough for the long haul through life. A ‘warm-glow-inside’ won’t go the distance when other things take priority, and it certainly isn’t enough to please our Father. Jesus said, “You are my friends, if you do what I command you,” (John 15v14) – how will we know what that is unless we read the Bible? He also told us that we must “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness,” (Matthew 6v33) – again, we can only seek it in His Word. Those who don’t, and who let the warm glow suffice, will be like those who receive the Word with joy – but then the cares of this world come along and choke it like thorns (Mark 4v19).
It’s a great start – to recognise that any sort of belief in God can change your perspective on life, and help you to deal with its challenges. But faith is much deeper than that, and involves a relationship with God, a real hope for the future, and a responsibility in this life now.